How To Remove and Prevent Yellow Armpit Stains

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It’s a sartorial problem that many men have, but few talk about. Yellow armpit stains.

You or someone you know has probably suffered the shame and embarrassment of wearing a dress shirt with dingy yellow stains radiating from the armpits. Instead of your office mates listening in awe as you tell them about the fish you caught that “was this big!” they’re staring at your eye-catching golden pits. When your gal asks to wear your sport coat to keep warm while you walk on a cool night, you balk, knowing that your yellow armpits of shame will be revealed. Missing out on a chance to be chivalrous…that’s the pits.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Are you ready to once again experience the joy and exhilaration of giving a confident, unabashed high-five in a shirt and tie? Would you like to save money by restoring your shirts to pristine whiteness instead of having to buy new ones?

Today we’re going to show you how you can easily remove yellow armpit stains and what you can do to prevent them. High-five!

What Causes Yellow Armpit Stains?

Sorry Pitstains. It isn't a gland problem.

Contrary to popular belief, it’s not your sweat itself that causes yellow stains. Most experts agree that that culprit behind your yellow pits is the aluminum used in antiperspirants combined with your sweat. Can you believe that? The very substance that keeps your pits nice and dry also wreaks havoc on your shirts. This presents a bit of a Catch-22. While foregoing antiperspirants can eliminate the risk of yellow stains later on, you’ll have to manage the wet semi-circles due to excessive sweating in the short-term.

How to Remove Yellow Armpit Stains

There are lots of “Grandma Tricks” out there on how to remove yellow armpit stains. I tried a few of them on a white dress shirt that had over six years of pit stain build-up in the armpits. The only time I wear this shirt is when I’m wearing a suit coat, and I make sure to leave the coat on even if it’s hotter than a football practice in the middle of the day during an Oklahoma heatwave in August. I don’t know why I held on to this shirt. It’s pretty nasty. Maybe my subconscious knew I was going to write a post about removing pit stains one day.

Here are the results of my experiment:


Don’t even try.

I didn’t try using bleach, but I thought I should mention this method first. For some guys, the natural response to fighting yellow stains is to just use lots of bleach. Don’t do it. It will actually make your pit stains even more yellow.

Ammonia+Dishwasher Soap

Will this dynamic duo destroy my armpit stains?

Result: Fail

The University of Illinois Extension Stain Solutions Department (yes, there’s really a university department dedicated to fighting stains) recommends a pit stain removing regimen that consists of scraping off any residue from the shirt with a dull butter knife and then soaking the stained areas in a quart of lukewarm water, half a teaspoon of dishwashing detergent, and one tablespoon ammonia for 15 minutes. While it’s soaking, you gently rub the stain from the back to loosen it up and then soak for another 15 minutes. Rinse and launder.

Yellow stain in ammonia and dishwasher detergent.

After: This just made the yellow stain angry.

I had high hopes for this method, but alas, I was disappointed. The yellow stain didn’t diminish at all. In fact, it started to look even worse than before. I don’t recommend this method.


Result: Success!

OxiClean, the miracle cleaner pitched by the best beard in infomercial history (RIP Billy Mays), claims that it can remove the stubbornest of yellow armpit stains. I put that claim to the test.

All you have to do is fill up a sink with warm water and mix it with one scoop of OxiClean. Place your blighted shirt in the sink, making sure the yellow stains are completely submerged. For mild stains, just let the shirt sit for an hour; for DEFCON 5 stains, let your shirt sit overnight. After you’re done soaking, rinse your shirt and launder as usual.

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